Van Pierszalowski fronted indie bands like WATERS and Port O’Brien for years before launching solo project Van William, which you’ll know by catchy folk-single “Revolution” featuring Swedish duo First Aid Kit off the four-track EP under the same name. It’s a song inspired by heartbreak (with a music video inspired by Ingmar Bergman films) that captures what it’s like to come to terms with differences in a relationship. But given the time it happened to be released, many interpreted “Revolution” as a ballad on dealing with our political state of affairs.
William says what “started as a song about the anxieties of being in a relationship, where both people want to fix its broken parts, but disagree on the means…became something else during and after the 2016 election.”
Though a musical wunderkind in his own right, true to his band roots, William says he couldn’t have done it without creative collaboration. “(First Aid Kit and I) rekindled our connection into one of the most important friendships I’ve ever had, and tracked this together before they went back to Stockholm. When the three of us are together, it feels like family in the best possible way.” Dawes drummer Griffin Goldsmith and The Morning Benders bassist Chris Chu also make musical appearances on The Revolution EP, which was recorded nearby in Stinson Beach.
One of William’s apparent strengths is constructing simple and memorable alt-pop songs, so it’s surprising he says the only other work he could have gone into, incredibly, was commercial fishing. But that’s what he grew up watching his dad do in Kodiak Island, Alaska (his first band, in fact, was named after the town where his parents met at a cannery in the 60s). When his dad recently announced his retirement, William decided to bring a camera to Alaska and document what would be his last summer on his father’s boat.
“Throughout my time on Kodiak Island, Alaska has always been a huge part of who I am, I’ve never been able to share much of it with anyone other than my immediate family…The songs on my EP and forthcoming album are deeply tied to my experiences on Kodiak. The fact that my life up there is ending while this project is starting feels right in every sense.”
You can see Van William at Concert for Kids at The Masonic December 1 in San Francisco. The show will benefit UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals and Marine Toys for Tots, continuing the longstanding tradition KFOG has with giving back to its community. Get tickets and info at KFOG.com/ConcertForKids.